Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Death of Courtesy?

I wonder sometimes if we are witnesses to the death of ages-old customs and behavior.

It seems that some of the ways I learned growing up no longer apply. That in itself is not a bad thing--I can wear pants in public and women have a lot more freedom and rights now than we did back in the 50's. My last position with the library was traditionally a man's job, and I suppose I was the first female Facilities Manager there (shoot, I was the first Facilities Manager, period). I can go almost anywhere I want (even though quite often a trip into an auto parts or repair place means having to assert that yes I do know what I'm talking about).

We can speak more freely too, with fewer barriers on our speech. But perhaps therein lies the worm. With more freedom we old-timers know, comes more responsibility. Responsibility to be aware of the feelings of others, the ease with which our words can hurt or offend.

I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups and I see the same problems erupt over and over: someone uses a four letter word (because they can) and someone gets offended. Escalation is swift to name-calling, more four letter words and usually obnoxious images to get the point across. This doesn't seem to be age-related, as people of all ages happily take part. It spans age groups, sexes, races, and sometimes even religions. I won't even mention politics! There the slinging gets intense and ridiculous.

People feel more free to vent when they can hide behind a computer screen, we all know that is a fact. And yet I have to wonder, is there really that much pent-up rage and stress out there? Are people really as nasty and mean-spirited as they easily behave online?

I am okay with uncensored groups, and I surely understand the frustration that leads to a post littered with the f-word. What stuns me is the level of insult and name-calling people sink to in what should be a simple and fun forum.

The change in behavior isn't limited to the online environment either. I am shocked when in passing I hear the vulgar language so casually used by our young people. I sound like my Dad! But it seems to me that there is a lack of respect--and self-respect--that has become endemic in today's society. Cussin' in private is one thing, but slinging it around in public with no regard who hears you? That makes the cusser look bad, at least in my eyes, and I am betting I'm not alone in feeling that way.

Another change I've noticed is the short-sightedness, the I-want-it-and-I don't-care-who-I run-over-to-get-it attitude. There seems to be a general attitude of entitlement that is disturbing and indicative of a society that is become self-centered and, well, selfish.

Am I just being an old codger? I am sure my grandparents were shocked at the free an easy behavior of their offspring during and after WWII, and even earlier during the Roaring 20's. Then there was my own generation in the 60's and 70's--Lord knows we certainly flaunted the accepted ways and probably made our parents crazy! So maybe this is just a passing thing, and we will look back and say, "Oh yeah! Remember how everyone was posting selfies and being rude back in teens?"

But what I am seeing isn't just the younger generation sowing wildness--it's people my age, people older and younger. Age doesn't seem to be the qualifier in this case; it seems to be a societal change. Freedom has come to mean the freedom to be mean and vulgar, to grab and not look back.

We've changed, all right. And in this old granny's opinion, it's not a change for the better.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

I too think standards have gone down. And like you I'm sure each generation has thought that, but I'm horrified by some of the things I see and hear.
We go out dancing and the dancing of the young can seem pretty vulgar to an oldie like me, but I figure they're young and will outgrow it. But then I see women my age dancing the same way and I really find it disgusting.
And don't even get me started on vulgar language. I blame tv and movies for a big part of that, plus the fact there are so few adults anymore. Older people, but not adults, they're still children in thought and deed.
Off my soapbox.

Granny Sue said...

That is something that bothers me too, Janet. Adults who act like children, and parents who think it's" cute" when their child is disrespectful to others. We would have been in so much trouble if we had acted like what I see today. Another side to this is definitely TV. Look how they shout over each other on talk shows, and don't get me started on "reality" shows! I sound like an old grump, but it honestly saddens me to see the old ways being pushed aside for this newer, ruder society.

Granny Sue said...

A case in point today. We stopped at an interstate rest area and there were 2 men talking inside the lobby. One of them was flinging obscenities with no regard of who else might be within earshot. It was a private conversation, of course, but he was speaking loud enough that it was impossible not to hear him. To me, that's rude. Just sayin'.

Brighid said...

I too find it disheartening that in today's world rude, crude language and behavior is so prevalent. And oh the rush to spew hate on social media sites!
I would have given my kids what for had they acted that way.

Nance said...

and where has customer service run off to? Could you please thank me for shopping in your place of business? I don't need 'have a great day' . . . a simple Thank You will suffice. Also, I don't like the F word that I now hear at work and from children. I yearn for older, simpler, nicer times. Thanks for a good post.

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